Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)
Winchester Row, July 6, 1785.
I received my dear brother's epistle, and have considered the matter he wrote to me about. God has not confined us to a single life; but Paul tells us, that the married person is often caring for the things of the world, how he may please his wife; but the unmarried person cares for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. The apostle gives this as his judgment, for he does not pretend to have had any particular command from God for it; yet we know that married people have a deal of trouble in the flesh; and our blessed apostle would have us without worldly carefulness.
However, a man that fears God is not to be burdened with worldly cares how to please his wife; a wife should be an helpmate for man, not a rival of God; nor would any gracious woman desire it.
You are at liberty to marry who you please, if she be in covenant with God, unless such relations as God's law forbids. What she has been matters not; if the dear Redeemer has espoused her to himself, you may take her to wife, if there be a mutual affection between you. Many a Magdalene has made an affectionate wife, after the reception of humbling grace at the Saviour's feet. The gospel contrition of poor Mary would have tied my soul to her, if she had been appointed for me, more close than the celebrated beauty of the fairest atheist in the world. A divine affinity is a strong tie, and is sure to strengthen the other. But take this by the way, if you marry her, you must expect now and then a taunt from some of her old acquaintances; and she may sometimes, even when you are with her, meet with a vulgar salutation from her old companions. I would have you consider before hand whether these things would sit easy, upon your old man.
Besides, God sometimes sends the spirit of jealousy upon a man, and he is jealous of his wife, which is intended to bring iniquity to light, Numb. v. 15; but sometimes it is to put a stop to iniquity in its conception; and sometimes to damp inordinate affections in married people, Gen. xxx. 2. Under such a spirit you might get distrustful of her fidelity; and her past life would serve to feed the fire. What think you of these things as causes and impediments? I hope you will weigh these matters before you take the yoke upon your neck. If you cannot make her pull down her high head before marriage, you are not likely to do it afterwards. I would make her dress like a woman professing godliness, or I would have nothing to do with her. I doubt her heart is not truly humbled; if it was, she would hate even the garments spotted by the flesh. If she dressed like an harlot, and is not one in heart, she acts the part of an hypocrite; and the harlot that mimics in dress the modest woman does the same.
The word of God gives us a true portrait both of the harlot and the woman professing godliness. You read of the short light ury attire of an harlot; of the mincing trip and step of their feet; of the catch and stretch of their neck; of their tires, muffers, noods, and veils; of their ornaments, trinkets, and jewels; of their changeable suits of apparel; of the wanton roll, dart, and cast of their eyes; and of the whore's forehead.
Now I think if her soul has been truly humbled by evangelical repentance, and her heart and affections purified by living faith, that she would take this conspicuous sign down. Why does she keep the sign out, if she has left off business? It ill becomes people who have left off trade, to mock their customers with an empty sign.
Far be it from me to cast a reflection on the vilest mortal on earth that God receives to mercy. But I know that an internal change of heart, by the power of God; will always be accompanied with an external conformity to the word of God; therefore if she is so dotingly fond of the signs, I should suspect her aversion to the business.
Women favoured with gospel faith are commanded to copy after their royal and venerable mother, whom God himself named Sarah, the royal lady and princess of many. Royal she was, for the King of heaven had crowned her with his blessing; and promised a numerous, natural, and spiritual progeny. "I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations." Male believers ay look to Abraham their father; and female saints may look to Sarah that bare them; for they are her daughters as long as they do well, and are not afraid with any amazement, I Pet. iii. 6. But I doubt your intended will never obey you; it is in vain that she calls you lord, if you cannot prevail upon her to strip herself of her wanton attire; she may call you lord, lord, but that is not sufficient; she ought, in this, to do the things that you say. God has commanded her to dress in modest attire, as becometh women professing godliness with sobriety, and "Not that outward plaiting of the hair, or of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price; for after this manner in old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves."
It is natural for every person to endeavour in dress and behaviour to please the object they love. If God the Saviour be her object, she will dress to please him, and even bathe his feet with tears, arid make a towel of her hair, rather than plait it to offend him, by entangling mankind in wickedness.
But if she is only a feigned professor, in all probability she aims at entangling your person in wedlock; and when this is done, the unclean spirit will return with six more of the same stamp; and you as an husband will only serve as a screen to her wickedness. I hope you will look before you will leap, as the proverb is, for you know a person habituated to the devil's service can never be a stranger to the serpent's wisdom; therefore you ought to be as wise as a serpent to find her out, the harmlessness of the dove is hardly sufficient.
The Lord direct my young brother in this matter! human counsel will not do, unless God think meet to bless it. If she be a chosen vessel, and effectually called to repentance, you may, under God, be a blessing to her; and a lawful antidote in future against her besetting sin; but if you are deceived by her, the galling yoke will be all your own; and enough to perplex your soul, and bow your neck till the day of your death; therefore pray; and get an answer from God, and he will direct you in the way you should go. Fare thee well.Thy willing Servant in the gospel of the Lord,
GOSPEL DRAUGHT FROM NATURE'S BREAST, INTENDED FOR RICKETTY CHILDREN.
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead." - Rom. 1:20.
THE wheel of nature as she rolls, her strange revolving tour,
Her Fabricator's work unfolds, and shews his matchless pow'r;
The spacious earth and spreading clouds, proclaim his sov'reign sway,
And, all conceal'd in nature's shrouds, his potent will obey.
Could woods and groves but bear their part with my enraptur'd soul,
While wisdom to my worthless heart her mystic wraps unfold;
The (lay, the night, the heat, the cold, all magnify thy name,
Both heaven and earth, thy seat and stool, unite to spread thy fame.
ON DAY AND NIGHT.
"Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge; there is no speech nor language whore their voce is not heard." - Psalm 19:2, 3.
Now sable night her vail has spread, bedeck'd with solemn gloom,
Which shews the mansions of the dead, the sinner's endless doom;
An emblem of my dreadful state, till sov'reign grace appear'd,
Enrapt in crimes of deadly hate, against the storm prepar'd.
The spring of day begins to rise and chase the gloomy shade,His light reveals the gloomy path my stubborn spirit trod,
So light divine unveils the eyes and shews the (lark parade;
The morning star, in bright array, portends the joyful morn;
So doth the star of endless day my sinful soul adorn.
Obnoxious to vindictive wrath, and yet at war with God;
Each just reflection quick return'd. and brought some crime to light,
While direful vengeance raga and burn'd, and put all hope to flight.
What wretched state of deep distress! thus destitute of grace,The rising sun shews his return, his warmer rays emit;
Yet skulking in some dark recess, to shun the Saviour's face;
Oh! had the Lord his mercy spar'd, and but conceal'd his light,
Then had my hopeless head been rear'd in everlasting night.
All nature would his absence mourn, if he should long retreat;
So doth the sun's Creator rise upon the fruitless soul,
Each parched pow'r receives supplies; he fructifies the whole.
ON THE OWL.
"I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert."?Psalm cii. 6. "I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and cried in the congregation. I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls." - Job 30:28, 29.
THE nightly watchman of the wood, the grave majestic owl,
An emblem of the pensive mood of my dejected soul;
This lonely ranger don't presume to join the plumed choir,
His solemn note, so void of tune, no birds of song admire.
When day has left all nature mute, he makes his lonely moan;So doth the guilty sinner try to shun the rays of light,
Nor do you hear his solemn note till gloomy night comes on
At break of day he quits his charge to those of higher sphere,
And leaves melodious birds at large to charm the list'ner's ear.
And in his gloomy thoughts apply the sable vest of night;
With wounds immortal drove to seek some calm and lone retreat,
In pensive sadness low and meek to find the mercy-seat.
The vain and the unthinking herd his words and looks discard,
Involv'd in notions so absurd of social aid debarr'd
But when the light divine appears he quits the dark recess,
And leaves his state of gloomy fears, to sing of sovereign grace.
"The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the boa together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious." - Isa 60:13.
"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season: his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." - Psalm 1:3.
THE lowly box and lofty pine their native garb possess,
Both cold and heat in vain combine to blast their verdant dress
So shall my sacred root afford his branch a rich supply,
For, saith the everlasting Lord, Thy leaf shall never die.
The piercing hail and violent storm may wave the tow'ring top,My life divine is still secure in one immortal root,
But if the root be good and firm the tree will still bear up;
Its life and strength in many a fold from human sight's conceal'd.
That while this root maintains its hold the tree can never yield.
And as the stock and root endure so must the leaf and fruit.
The husbandman so well contrives to spread the sap unseen,
That while the tree of life survives his branches must be green.
The willow by the water-course receives supply and grows,When I survey creation round, thy tender care I see,
Each fibre draws from nature's source to feed the spreading boughs;
So stands the saint by Shiloh's flood and draws new life divine,
While faith and love root deep in God, and feed the heavenly mine.
In all thy works thy hand is found, and thine immensity;
Thy matchless power still protects the orphan of thy care,
In vain the fiend my soul attacks, when thou art present here.
ON THE DEW.
"I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall grow as the lily." - Hos 14:3.
"As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion, for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." - Ps. 133:3.
THE gentle rain and nightly dew attend to nature's cry,
And both proclaim the promise true, that I shall never die
Each spreading cloud some favour shows, when they their drops distil.
The benediction God bestows on favour'd Zion's hill.
'Tis here the Holy Ghost descends, and joyful tidings brings,
Among Jehovah's chosen friends his boundless mercy spring.
Here David's blessing richly fell, with all her promis'd store,
And here eternal life shall dwell, when time shall be no more.
ON THE RAINBOW, ROCKS, AND HILLS.
"For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee." - Isa 54:9, 10.
"And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things that cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved let us have grace." - Heb. 12:27, 28.
THE promis'd bow doth still endure, the world no deluge hath;
So doth that bow my soul secure from everlasting wrath
Its yellow cast, its crimson die, and lasting azure blue,
All shine with unbelief to vie, and prove the promise true.
The stable rocks and rising hills, shew my exalted state,What the' the foe should dare assail Jehovah's plighted troth,
More firm my soul on Jesus dwells, as fixed there by fate;
The rocks shall rend and mountains quake, and all the globe shall move,
But God has sworn he'll never shake his kingdom rear'd in love.
Shall fiends of hell with God preveil, to break his solemn oath?
Nay! sun and moon their circuits run, to skew my state secure.
Revolving planets each in turn proclaim salvation sure.
ON THE LUMINARIES OF HEAVEN.
"Thus saith the Lord which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stare for a light by night. If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever." - Jer. 31:35, 36.
"For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity." - Isa. 13:10, 11.
"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." - Matt. 13:43.
THE stars that in their orbits shine, this solid joy afford,
That they their glory must resign, when saints shall be restor'd;
Such from his sphere is doom'd to fall, bereft of all his pride,
Before the great eternal All, and his illustrious bride.
The fickle moon, in borrow'd rays, reproves my moral spots,The burning sun shall then assume his long predicted veil,
Her liquid light to all displays the spouse's secret blots;
But she must take her final wane, and yield her bright array,
Nor must she dare be seen again in everlasting day.
To shew his face shall ne'er presume, when brighter lights preveil;
Thus all created lights retire, and all their rays resign,
While in the glory of the Sire, the saints shall ever shine.
O God, the earth, the sea, and skies, proclaim my state secure,Lord, what is man! or what am I, that thou should'st thus engage,
And thou art bound by numerous ties, to make my standing sure;
Be still my guide, my sure defence, let love be still display'd,
And when thou take my spirit hence, be thou my present aid.
To draw my wavering mind on high, in spite of Satan's rage'?
The self-complete Eternal now, to draw my thoughts above,
Hath deign'd to promise, swear, and vow, to win a mortal's love.